10 February 2002

Random Ramblings: Amex

A little bit of weirdness. I was browsing the Membership Rewards section of American Express' website the other day to see what I could do with my accumulated points. Interestingly, I noticed that you could use points to buy computer paraphernalia. Hmm, like what? A whole computer maybe?

Well, yes and in fact, a LOT more. Here's an interesting item: a Cisco enterprise switch. All you need are 4,681,400 points to get one. Hmm, how much stuff would you need to charge to your Amex card to get 4,681,400 points? Easy: US$4,681,400!

While this may have been the most expensive item in their list (they literally have thousands of computer items), there are nonetheless still TONS of stuff requiring 1 million or more points. I find it interesting that anyone would charge a million $ worth of stuff to their Amex card. I wonder how long the approval takes for something like that.

09 February 2002

Article: Home Networking

Double sigh. It's been a LONG time since I wrote a full blown article, but here's something I wrote on home networking for a computer networking course I'm taking.

08 February 2002

Random Ramblings: IPTV No Longer Free

Sigh, another freebie service bites the dust. A month or so ago, I wrote about the streaming Thai TV programming that was provided by IPTV (https://www.ip-tv.tv/tv/tv.php). Well, free no more, folks. The going rate after March 15 will now be 2,500 Baht for 1 month, 6,750 Baht for 3 months, 12,000 Baht for 6 months and 18,000 Baht for 12 months. At about 2,000 Baht per month, if memory serves me correct, that's more expensive than getting ITV cable TV. I wonder who's going to pay.

(Note: Until March 15 - granted, for only one week- there are special promotion rates of 500 Baht, 1,350 Baht, 2,400 Baht and 3,600 Baht for the aforementioned periods.)

09 January 2002

Random Ramblings: Tracing IP Addresses

Curious from whence a certain IP address originates? For example, who's that knocking on your firewall? While you might not be able to trace the exact user, at least you can find out from which ISP or domain it's coming from. You do this by using "reverse IP look-up". I use the services of two sites: Amnesia.com at https://www.amnesi.com/hostinfo/ipinfo.jhtml and Geektools at https://www.geektools.com/cgi-bin/proxy.cgi. One minor problem is that Amnesia sometimes goes "walkabout", especially when you run many queries in a short period time. Thus, Geektools may be the better/more reliable choice.

08 January 2002

Wobble: Please Use tprthai.net

For quite some time now, I've been hosting Wobble at https://www.tprthai.net, although it actually started life at https://www.tprthai.com/wobble (or https://www.wobble.tprthai.com). In a few days, I will officially terminate the tprthai.com URL's (which were merely forwarding URL's anyway). Please use https://www.tprthai.net only from now on.

07 January 2002

Random Ramblings: TV-based Internet Access

Happy New Year 2002! - well, a week late anyway. I just got back from vacation with the family in the mountains. As is becoming customary with my local travels, I travelled "sans" a notebook. The hotel I stayed in, however, had internet services that were accessible from the TV (something called "LodgeNet"). I've always been curious how good/bad this was, so I broke down and paid the US$9.95 fee for one day's worth of surfing.

How was it? Well, here's what Wobble looks like. Let's just say that it worked and was better than nothing at all (although if it had costed nothing at all also, it would have been even better!). Without a mouse, navigation was awkward but mostly do-able, especially if you're familiar with the layout of the websites you visit. Another problem is that some pages I accessed were either too big or too complicated for the TV browser to handle.

Final Analysis: I wouldn't recommend this as a low-cost, permanent solution, even for neophytes, who would be better served by learning to use a real computer. Granted web-tv home appliances are cheaper, but in my opinion you're sacrificing too much.

27 December 2001

Random Ramblings: Tweaking Your hosts File

Recently, I've started using HotMail. Not as my main emailer, mind you, but rather for odds and ends. While I like many of the recent enhancements made to the system, but one of the things I hate is that when quitting HotMail, I'm always taken to msn.com rather than returning to the HotMail sign-on screen.

If you don't do anything at/with msn.com, there's an easy fix to this - simply add a line to your hosts file (found in C:\Windows under Windows 9x/Me or C:\Winnt\System32\Drivers\Etc under Windows 2K) that points www.msn.com to the HotMail's IP address ( This is a kludge, of course, but it works and it saves me an extra click and a few seconds.

26 December 2001

Random Ramblings: Free Internet Thai TV (IPTV)

Happy Boxing Day! A Thai friend here in the U.S. recently tipped me off to IPTV (https://www.ip- tv.tv/tv/tv.php), which is sponsored by Shinawatra Broadband. The site contains selected TV telecasts of channels 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, iTV etc. for the past three days. Some live transmissions are also available but they tend to be iffy. Actually, even the "taped" don't always work properly either (i.e. no sound or the site doesn't respond at all). But when it DOES work, it's pretty nice. More often than the not, the sound/action synchronization is pretty smooth. Anyway, this is what it looks like from my end of the Net.

People who want to watch "la-korn" or want their news served to them Thailand-style or just want to hear the sweet strains of spoken Thai again, may find this site useful. I'm not sure if this works on modem connections though. I've only tested it with my cable modem connection and at my friend's house that's hard-wired to the university's Ethernet backbone.

25 December 2001

Random Ramblings: Merry Christmas 2001

Merry Christmas. After being in a coma for four months, Wobble will be re-animated at the beginning of 2002.